The importance of storytelling to presentations can’t be overstated. Presenting a compelling narrative is absolutely critical to delivering an excellent presentation.
Research suggests that storytelling impacts presentations in a few key ways. For starters, telling a story makes it much easier for your audience to remember what you said than if you presented facts and figures alone. Additionally, stories introduce causal relationships in concepts and ideas that that might otherwise go unidentified by your audience. But perhaps most importantly of all, storytelling compels your audience to act.
Narratives have a unique way of tapping into our emotions and immersing us in new worlds unlike anything else. And studies indicate that it’s emotion, rather than logic, that compels us to act. When you tell your audience a story, you’re giving them an opportunity to feel the emotional impact of your idea which in turn makes them much more inclined to act on it than if you showed them a dry (and boring) bullet-point list of facts.
If you’re not a seasoned storyteller, don’t sweat it. The following exercises will have you telling stories with the best of ‘em in no time.
The next time you have 30 minutes free, step outside and start people-watching. When you see someone interesting or eye-catching, imagine what their backstory is. Give them a name, speculate on why they’re wearing what they’re wearing and where you think they’re going. Contemplate their romantic life, their occupation, and what sort of sensibility you imagine them to have.
Look at Old Photographs
This exercise is similar to the people-watching exercise, but opens the door to even more narrative possibilities. Search online for old photographs and think about the story behind them. Why are they posed that way? What do you imagine the dynamic is between the subject and the photographer? Where are they going after the shot is taken? Then take it a step further and jot down your thoughts into a narrative structure.
Use Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing and practice the art of storytelling. And with the good ol’ internet on your side, they’re incredibly easy to find. In fact, Reddit has an entire sub-community dedicated to an ongoing list of compelling writing prompts that range from tell a story about a woman who waits at a bus stop every day but never gets on it to a robot’s thoughts on receiving hugs from a child.
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